1,600+ girls attend WE ARE GIRLS conference in Houston

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - One local school worked with a Texas nonprofit this weekend on a large-scale conference to empower thousands of girls to pursue their dreams and their interests.

In dozens of workshops, many students from all over the state were encouraged to learn and be inspired.

The WE ARE GIRLS Houston Conference took place Saturday at Hogg Middle School. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., organizers with the Texas nonprofit Girls Empowerment Network worked with local schools to bring 70 plus interactive workshops for the massive event. 

“The WE ARE GIRLS conference is for girls from third to eighth grade and the adults that care about them. It is a day full of girl learning and leadership,” said Brittany Yelverton, an organizer with Girls Empowerment Network. “Girls get to be in charge of their day and they get to learn about healthy relationships and body positivity and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).”

More than 1,600  female students from all over greater Houston area came to the conference.

“I feel like girls are going to be a lot more inspired because of all of these leaders and how much we’re going to learn,” said 12-year-old Alyssa Perez, a sixth grader at Navarro Middle School.

This year’s theme was “Ignite Her Power" for Alyssa, who participated in the drone workshop as well as the self-defense workshop, it was about breaking boundaries. She said she was inspired to do more.

“I’m definitely going to study a little harder in math and science because I feel like it’s going to be really helpful in my career,” Alyssa said.

The workshops were both in Spanish and English and took place in the many classrooms and hallways of the school. Organizers said the goal was to get the girls’ feet wet, light a spark, and fan the flame of learning and creativity.

“We might go to a Microsoft workshop and end up at a ballet workshop,” Yelverton said. “The workshops run the gamut.”

From karate, dance, literature, STEM, arts and much more, the workshops were diverse.

“We’re introducing them to the idea of architecture -- of them envisioning what you want something to be and then creating it,” Amanda Dean, Women in Architecture Houston chairperson, said.

“What we’re building right now is a library,” said Belen McClain, a third grader at Parker Elementary. “I like to create things.”
McClain is one of 50 students that came with Parker Elementary.

“This is a super fun session on architecture. She has taken over our guest room with her Legos building things, and so I love to see how she can see how this translates into a career in architecture or whatever she wants to do,” Joan Hernandez-McClain, Belen’s mother, said.

The conference’s goal was to inspire the next generation of women to be who they want to be.

“I want to be a cardiologist that specializes in pediatrics,” Alyssa said. “You can do anything. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”

The conference is an annual one. The Houston conference generally takes place in May.

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